I caught My Morning Jacket in Phoenix (Tempe, actually) Wednesday night on their Okonokos tour.

They played at the Marquee club, which holds approximately 800 people. Just about the right size to see a band.

Having never seen MMJ, I wasn't sure what to expect. The reviews have been overwhelmingly postiive, and the boots I've listened to have been great. Knowing this however, I was not prepared for the show.

MMJ took the stage around 8:30, opening with One Big Holiday. They played 18 tunes all together, throwing in several obscure (to my ears anyway) covers. The tunes from Z translated very well - in fact I think they were better live than on the released disc. My favorite was the brooding Dondante, which started slowly and swelled to a gargantuan crescendo. I was blown away by Jim James' voice - he created powerful harmonies and had a great range. Both Golden and Bermuda Highway were fantastic acoustic showcases of his voice.

The entire set was backlit, no front-lighting whatsoever. It reminded me of No Quarter from TSRTS ... the smoke and dry-ice made it kind of eerie actually. I didn't see Jim James' face until almost the end of the show, and even then, it was just for a second. It reminded me of another Jim, Jim Morrison. In No One Here Get Out Alive, Danny Sugerman talked quite a bit about how Morrison was pretty shy (when sober) and would sing with his back to the audience. If Morrison faced the audience, he would sing with his eyes closed. Jim James was in the same mold - having a blast with his bandmates, but seemed a bit reluctant to face the audience.

Overall, the show was a definite 'A" - see 'em if they head your way.

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Stephan Jenkins/Palo Black and White Ball

I caught a solo set by Stephan Jenkins (3rd Eye Blind) at the Palo Alto Black and White Ball Saturday night.

He played a 30 minute acoustic set, which included the "first song he ever wrote", plenty of 3EB songs, and a song the band is recording for their 4th album.

The crowd didn't quite realize who Stephan Jenkins was until he played "Jumper" from their first album. I was up front talking to Stephan before the gig - when he first started, there were a total of 3 of us cheering him on. The other two people were at least 10 years older than I am and were *way* into the show. By the middle of the show, things got crowded, but no mosh pit came to life.

The event was a benefit for the local school district. Stephan attended Palo Alto schools and had some humorous comments between songs about life as a Palo Alto high school student. Apparently one of his former teachers told him he would end up in jail!

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The Raconteurs in AZ


I caught The Raconteurs last night in Phoenix, AZ. An incredible show in a small club - Jack White blew me away. He and the rest of the band were very energetic (luckily it was only 85 degrees (F) in the club instead of the 111 degrees outside) and obviously enjoying every moment. They played most of their debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers" and threw in multiple obscure cover tunes as well. Jack White and Brendan Benson did some great harmonizing, call and response and twin guitar leads.

The highlight of the night for me was "Blue Vein", which sounded almost nothing like the studio version. It was very bluesy, reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" (Jack White even sounded like a young Robert Plant at one point :-))

We left the club, ears ringing, happy we caught these guys before they play in much larger venues.

Mother Hips - Everyone Knows This is Nowhere

One of my favorite bands, The Mother Hips released a download-only (with great artwork) show where they play Neil Young's "Everyone Knows This is Nowhere" in its' entirety. The sound quality is fantastic; make sure to get the FLAC version :-)

In a big picture sense, I wonder how this works for them. They don't have a deal with a major label but they are able to still get music out to their fan base. A good long-tail example.

7 Seconds - New Disc

I've been listening to an advance of the new 7 Seconds disc "Take it Back, Take it On, Take it Over" and I wholeheartedly agree with the reviews I've been reading -- a great disc, a great way to start the year. My favorite disc since "Out the Shizzy".

One song in particular sums up the whole disc - "Where's the Danger". Kevin discusses his relevancy in the post-modern world as a post-twentysomething punk. I could listen to that song all day (in fact, I put it on repeat for about 20 times while I wrote this :-))

I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin Seconds outside a show in San Jose way back when (Soulforce Revolution tour). He's a great guy; can't wait for the tour dates!

London Calling/Vanilla Tapes

I've spent the last few days listening to the new Clash release, "London Calling - The Legacy Edition".  The original tunes have been remastered and sound crisp.  They really were the "Only Band That Matters" for a while there.  A completely amazing collection of music that doesn't wear thin, even after 20 years.  (Side note -- I wonder where I put that 8' x 4' blow-up poster of the album cover? It was on the wall in my college dorm...)

In addition to remastered sound, a 3rd CD is also included, the legendary "Vanilla Tapes".  Demos of the London Calling tunes, they are supposed to be a treat to the serious collector. You can hear the songs evolving into what was officially released.

I'm sure some folks are very happy these artifacts have been released, but IMHO, I have to say I'm not that impressed. Sure, I own my share of demos (official and unofficial). I'm used to the sometimes muddy sound and snippets of outtakes.  I think the issue is that reading various reviews, my expectations have been set high, apparently too high.

On a positive note, perhaps this release will herald the release of "Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg", the original version of "Combat Rock". Now that would be a score!